When it comes to marketing your local business online, there are many, many choices. Obviously, the heavy hitters like Google+, Yelp, Facebook, Bing Local and Yahoo Local are excellent hosts for local listings. But what about Foursquare?
A hefty chunk of the population virtually lives on their cell phones, pinging, poking, texting and tweeting each other, and “checking in” at various locations. While they may access any or all of the aforementioned sites to search for a local business, there’s one more that’s designed exclusively for the smartphone crowd: Foursquare.
As a location-based social networking site for mobile devices, Foursquare has allowed users to “check in” at different locations with their smartphones. Every time they check in, a user is awarded points and sometimes ‘badges.” The user who checks in to a venue the most often over a 60-day period is declared the “mayor” of that spot.
Foursquare Recently Split Up Their Features In Two Apps
Several months ago Foursquare Labs Inc. unbundled its popular features and now offers two apps: Swarm and Foursquare. Swarm, which is essentially designed to be Foursquare 2.0. is focused on the check-in features discussed above. Unfortunately, the app has not been received well so far, as it has a two star review on the App Store. According to Foursquare execs, however, this is just a minor bump in the road. They have already updated the app several times, repackaging and adding back in popular game features which make checking in a competition.
The regular Foursquare app will focus on offering individualized local listing information. Foursquare started out as an app for those who love to stay connected with their friends, the new and improved version is making a play to compete with Yelp and Google as a local search engine. For this reason, a savvy business owner would be wise to optimize their listing on Foursquare.
List Your Business on Foursquare and Connect With Your Customers
To become one of the businesses that use Foursquare, all you need to do is go to the Foursquare for Business website. You may find that your business is already listed. If so, you just need to claim and validate it by signing in and adding all of your pertinent information. In addition to your address and phone number, Foursquare allows you to add a business description, hours of operation, a link to your website, links to your Facebook and Twitter pages, food or service menus, payment information and other miscellaneous details.
If you don’t already have a listing, once you register and sign in, you’ll be walked through the process of creating your listing from scratch. If you manage more than 10 locations, there are separate applications that allow you to bulk upload your listings.
To keep your listing fresh, Foursquare offers several free business tools that you can use to connect with your customers. Foursquare Local Updates allows you to share news, events or featured items with customers who have checked in nearby as well as customers who visit your business page. You can create and post these updates as often as you like, and your customers will automatically see them on their phone.
The Foursquare Specials tool allows you to set up specials to attract customers for free. Users can then redeem your special when they check in at your business.
Foursquare’s free analytics tool shows you how many check-ins you’re getting each week, and how many of those are being shared on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find out who is the current “mayor” of your business, and learn more about your other top visitors. Foursquare will actually send you an email every week with your key stats and any recent tips or photos that people have posted to your site.
Is Foursquare the Right Platform for your Business?
There’s a whole demographic out there that doesn’t even own a PC or a laptop since they do all of their business on their mobile devices. While customers they may also be searching on Google, Bing and Yahoo, Foursquare is an excellent local listing service to help you make a solid connection with mobile users. Foursquare’s re-branding is also promising, as it seems that they are committed to becoming an even big player in the local search space.